How to Be Present: 4 Parenting Lessons to Take Away from Our Grandparents

It seems that parents today have an easier job than ever: from thousands of books that tell them how to deal with every step of their kid’s childhood, to socks that send information of your baby’s heart rate directly to you phone. But, it might not all be as perfect as it sounds, because these days, kids are becoming less independent and a lot less capable of taking on the world as they grow up. So what has changed, and what can we learn from our grandparents and the time when they were growing up, that can help us raise our own kids?

Words: Brigitte Evans

1. You Can’t Know until You Try

“If I hear, I will forget. If I see I will remember. If I do, I will know.” Nobody in the world can argue against the truth of this saying, yet with every new generation, we focus on telling kids how to do something instead of letting them get their hands on it and do it. From cutting the food in their plate to choosing what they wear and what school they will go to, we are not letting kids do things themselves for fear that they will fail. But, if they never try and fail, they will never learn. We already have information on how to do absolutely anything right at our fingertips, and if children aren’t developing the skills of problem solving and figuring how things work on their own, we will start seeing less and less of new inventions and patents, crucial for our society’s development.

2. Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Information superhighways are all around us. If a person who we’d probably never meet in real life does something amazing on the other side of the world, we will know in a matter of minutes. And while this can be extremely useful, it is also harmful, because it leaves us no choice, but to compare ourselves to those people. And because of that, we are raising generations who are less and less self-assured. Make sure you adequately support your child and tell them how to follow their own dreams and goals. If they want to get into Cambridge University, help them prepare. If they want to be an athlete, support them in their training. It doesn’t matter if there is someone who is at this moment doing it better than they are, they should still try to be the best version of themselves, without the successes of others being put as obstacles to overcome.

3. Happiness is Not Found – It’s Created

Children these days seem to think that if they follow the pattern and do everything “right”, they will have happiness. What they seem to forget is that happiness isn’t a destination, or a goal: it’s a journey and a state of mind. Searching for happiness in material things and short-term goals isn’t the way. We should teach our kids to enjoy the little things: the taste of the apple they are snacking on, the sunshine on their face while they are walking to school, and time they are spending with their friends and family. Once they realise that happiness is already all around them, hidden in all of the little things, they will learn how to truly be happy.

4. Practice People Skills

Before the time of internet, TV and texting, we had to practice talking to people. Real, human people, face to face. Children these days are so used to instant messaging, e-mails and social media posts, that they have trouble communicating with people in real life. So make sure that your kids practice social skills by volunteering at a local charity, going to after school activities or anything else that puts them in direct contact with people they don’t know. It will help them prepare for future interviews, public speaking and everyday life, when they need to interact with people to accomplish their goals. Being introverted is one thing, but not knowing how to ask someone the time at a bus stop is lack of basic skills. Lead by example, put the phone down, and talk to them and the people around them whenever you can.

It’s not easy raising kids with these values in mind, especially when they are bound to be under the influence of the world around them. Some things that can help you are, for example, getting rid of the TV and reducing computer and phone time to a minimum, setting specific meal times when the whole family gets together and making sure that you check in with them often about how they are feeling, what is happening in their life and what their dreams are.